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Verifying
Multi-threaded
Software
with Spin

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Spin is a popular open-source software verification tool, used by thousands of people worldwide. The tool can be used for the formal verification of multi-threaded software applications. The tool was developed at Bell Labs in the Unix group of the Computing Sciences Research Center, starting in 1980. The software has been available freely since 1991, and continues to evolve to keep pace with new developments. In April 2002 the tool was awarded the ACM System Software Award. [read more]


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Open Source: Starting with Version 6.4.5 from January 2016, the Spin sources are available under the standard BSD 3-Clause open source license. Spin is now also part of the latest stable release of Debian Linux, and has made it into the 16.10+ distributions of Ubuntu. The current Spin version is 6.4.7 (August 2017).

Symposia: The 25th Spin 2018 Symposium will be held at the University of Malaga in Spain, organized by Pedro Merino Gomez and Maria del Mar Gallardo. Preprints from the proceedings of the 24th Symposium in Santa Barbara, CA are now available online, see symposia.

Course: An online course in software verification and logic model checking is available (password required). There are a total 15 short lectures covering the automata-theoretic verification method, the basic use of Spin, model extraction from C source code, abstraction methods, and swarm verification techniques. You can see an overview via this link. An excellent introduction to the basics of model checking.

Interactive Static Analysis: Take a look at: http://spinroot.com/cobra where you can find information on a somewhat different approach to static source code analysis. The Cobra tool is fast enough to be used interactively on quite large code bases. Executables to evaluate the tool are available for Linux, Cygwin/Windows, and Mac.

Tau Tool: A simple front-end tool for Spin, called Tau (short for Tiny Automata) can be downloaded from: http://authors.library.caltech.edu/56038/, and is distributed under LGPL by Caltech, as a teaching tool for formal verification and finite automata.

    // a small example spin model
    // Peterson's solution to the mutual exclusion problem (1981)
    
    bool turn, flag[2];		// the shared variables, booleans
    byte ncrit;        		// nr of procs in critical section
    
    active [2] proctype user()	// two processes
    {
    	assert(_pid == 0 || _pid == 1);
    again:
    	flag[_pid] = 1;
    	turn = _pid;
    	(flag[1 - _pid] == 0 || turn == 1 - _pid);
    
    	ncrit++;
    	assert(ncrit == 1);	// critical section
    	ncrit--;
    
    	flag[_pid] = 0;
    	goto again
    }
    // analysis: 
    // $ spin -run peterson.pml

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